The languages of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa: Reviewing migrancy, foreignness, and solidarity
by Camalita Naicker, Agenda: Feminist Magazine
This open forum piece argues that the language and discourse of xenophobia is a shared experience among people who are seen and constructed as being from ‘elsewhere’ in four different provinces in South Africa. It suggests that use of xenophobic discourse and language, the precarious nature of living conditions, labour conditions and restricted access to citizenship rights from the State, are experienced by all people who are categorised as ‘migrants’
internally, and those described as ‘foreigners’ or ‘refugees’ by Government officials.
What this open forum piece will also show is that the Pan-Africanism and collective ideas of freedom, struggle and resistance or ‘bonds of solidarity’ among migrant labourers, both from other countries as well as the former Bantustans during the struggles against apartheid, should not be confined to a nostalgic past, but seen as very much present in South Africa today. This solidarity is perhaps not so much about a shared history of struggle against colonialism and apartheid, although this too may be extant, but is rather informed by a shared present
where some are seen as citizens with freedom of movement and access to services from the State, while others are excluded. The notion of citizenship, then, becomes refracted, not merely through the making of the new categories of ‘foreigners’ through labour migration, but also through deeply raced and classed discourses which inform who is viewed as a migrant and who is not.
Camalita Naicker, Kafila
The #nationalshutdown of all major universities in South Africa continues, even after a historic victory yesterday, when, after several days of mass mobilisation by students and workers President Jacob Zuma was forced to concede a zero-percent fee increase in university tuition fees next year. Yet, it was bittersweet for the more than twelve thousand people who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria who were, once again, tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets and stun grenades. The police turned violent when students began demanding, after waiting for several hours, that the President address them. Instead, Zuma chose to speak to the media in a press briefing and leave the students to the police. In Cape Town, students marched to the airport to show their solidarity with those in Pretoria; there too police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun-grenades even as students fled into the neighbouring residential areas. For many, the victory it is only a partial one, a short-term solution deferring the problem to another day. It does not resolve the issue of unaffordable education nor does it address other important issues that the national action has been tied to like the outsourcing of labour on university campuses or the general discontents of the lack of transformation at higher education institutions in the country. Continue reading
Camalita Naicker, Economic & Political Weekly
This article addresses recent debates around the strikes and the massacre of the mine workers at South Africa’s Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana from 2012 onwards. It argues that there is a failure to delve deeper into the culture of people who come from Mpondoland in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and to link culture to the political in the way workers’ actions have been reported and understood. Culture has been used as a way to explain away an aberration rather than exploring the use of cultural political tools within the strike. The article offers an analysis which takes seriously the political implications of culture.